Students in this class will either present a brief oral report to the class or, individually or in groups of 2 people, keep an online journal (weblog) of their reading this semester. Both options will involve about the same amount of work, but with the weblog option, you'll be spreading the work out over the entire semester.
If you choose to keep a weblog AND present a report, you do not need to take the final exam.
What's a group blog?
A group weblog (or blog) is a way for you to form a smaller community within the class and discuss a topic that interests your group. It is your space not only to write down your thoughts, insights, and opinions about the literature but also to find and link to other information that you find on the web.
You can choose to keep your blog based on a particular theme or you can keep it as a more freeform response blog. Your first post as a group, which you'll write in class. The overall idea is that you are providing additional information to class members.
We will set up blog groups in class. Your group can write your first post in class: a statement about what you all want your blog to accomplish. Give your weblog group a name and make sure to sign your comments with it. This will help in giving credit to each group.
What are the requirements?
1. Every Thursday, a member of your group will write a blog post of 400-500 words. To allow for exams, holidays, and papers, some weeks have no weblog post due. There are 10 blog post days in all and an extra credit blog day to let you make up any missed points.
2. Post your entry to your weblog by the Thursday due date at 9 p.m. You do not need to wait for Thursday. Your group can complete its post and comments at any time during the week, but 9 p.m. on Thursday is the due date each week; after that, your post will count for the next week.
3. Respond to at least one post by another group by Thursday at 9 p.m. Since new blog posts won't be available until 9 p.m., you'll be reading and responding to posts from the previous week. You don't have to wait until Thursday to post a comment, though.
The requirement is one comment from your group on one other group's blog, although you're welcome to post other comments if you wish. You don't need to post as individuals, although you can if you want to.
Comments should be substantial: 100-200 words that discuss the content of the post. Try asking questions, adding your own observations, or mentioning another blog post that seems to respond to this one.
How do I create a blog?
You do not need to have any knowledge about creating web pages to choose this option. The beauty of a weblog is that all the technical work is done for you. You simply type in your comments and click on the "publish" button.
Many free blogging sites are available.which would work well for our class. Creating an account and setting up your weblog on any of the free sites will take about five minutes. You should try to choose a site that allows the creation of an RSS feed and permits comments, as Blogger and Wordpress do. Blogger (www.blogger.com) and Wordpress (www.wordpress.com) are two popular free blogging sites. Tumblr isn't suitable because it doesn't allow comments. Choosing a color scheme and background (a "theme") is up to your group, but please think about readability. Red or purple text on a black background is very hard to read, for example. As with other forms of writing, if I can't read it, I can't give you credit for it.
What should I write about?
You'll write about whatever you found striking in our recent reading. If you're stuck, however, you can try some of the following suggestions, though you don't have to.
Here are some suggestions for weblog posts (though you're not required to use any of them)::
- Short passage. Choose a passage that intrigued you, infuriated you, puzzled you, or otherwise provoked you to think about its meaning. Write a post in which you discuss the passage, its meaning, and your reaction.
- Three words. Choose any three words that are especially significant in the text, and explain why they are so significant. Alternately, you can challenge or "tag" another class member to write on three words of your choosing.
- Thoughts about the book. Post your thoughts about some aspect of the novel.
- Thoughts about your paper. Try out some ideas for your paper. What important theme, symbol, or feature of the text particularly interests you?
- "The Word" on a speech. Take a passage of dialogue that is especially significant in the text, and after each character's words, write what he or she is REALLY thinking or trying to prove.
- Stop, fool! Is there a point in the text when a character acts in a way that is so self-destructive or ridiculous that you'd like to stop him or her? Is there any character in the text who might actually have a chance of stopping the character? Write a dialogue (in character) in which you try to dissuade the character from the self-destructive action.
- Call me Ishmael. Write your blog post for the week as if you were one of the characters in the book. Comment on the action you've observed or been engaged in, using the style and personality of the character.
- Blog carnival. A blog "carnival" is a collection of annotated links on a particular topic. Try to find blogs that address a topic relevant to the literature we're discussing (technorati.com may be helpful in finding links) and host your own "carnival" on your blog.
- Classics need editors, too. Be the editor that the author needed. If you could change something (omit a chapter or passage, add an explanation, create a new character, etc.) in the novel you're reading, what would you change and why? This could be written in the form of a letter to the author explaining how those changes will improve the book.
- Better ending. Write an alternate ending for the novel, and explain the reasons why your ending is better than the one the author chose.
- Parody. Write a parody of the novel or a chapter in the novel.
- Right story, wrong form. Rewrite the work or a section of the work in another form. For example, what would Cane look like if it were a song lyric? a limerick? a sonnet? What would The Beautiful and Damned look like if it were turned into a play?
- Right story, wrong author. Rewrite an episode from the novel in the style of a different author. What would Passing look like if Hemingway wrote it?
- Response to post. Respond to a posting that you've read on another class member's blog.
- A current event. If something we're reading is relevant to the cultural, social, or political scene today, write a post in which you connect the reading with the current phenomenon.
What happens if a blog member drops out or fails to post the material that the group has assigned?
Groups have a shared responsibility for posting to the blog, and the performance of all depends on each individual member. If a blog member doesn't post the material (responses or posts) that the group has listed as his or her responsibility, group members should discuss that with the individual. The group should try to work it out internally first. If the individual still does not meet his or her responsibilities, the group can inform that individual (and let me know) that he or she is no longer part of the group.
Remember, blogging is optional. All class members need to complete only two out of these three: report, blog, Exam 2.
How is the blog graded?
The weblog will be graded primarily on your satisfactory completion of the above criteria and the quality of your posts.
Each blog post counts as follows
3 points = 2 points for the initial post + 1 point for a comment
2 points = 2 points for the initial post but no comment was posted
1 point = 1 point for a comment but no initial post
0 points = post and comment missing, or you are not participating in the blog assignment. Remember, you’re not required to participate, and your report grade and final exam grade will be sufficient.